MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
Maintenance Center Albany, which first received the International Organization for Standardization certification in 2002 for its industrial practices, received its semi-annual ISO Surveillance Audit here, Dec. 2-3.
“We had our Surveillance Audit by EAQA (an international auditing company), which is our audit registrar,” said Johnny Barthlein, quality manager, MCA.
“They checked our quality system, such as our audit program, our calibration of items, how we design and inspect and test, and our training program.”
ISO is a set of international recognized standards from which quality systems are developed, first implemented in Geneva in 1947. ISO derives its name from the Greek word isos, which means ‘equal.’ ISO organizations must be recertified every three years.
“The success of the ISO program here at MCA is one of our strong points because of the dedication and team efforts of each and every MCA employee,” said Col. Terry W. Reid, commander, MCA. “Every employee here knows that the warfighter is the center of focus and all efforts are made to ensure that they get ‘simply the best’ equipment available.”
Many industrial and manufacturing facilities strive for ISO certification, but not all achieve it.
“MCA is the first ground force depot in the Department of Defense ever to be totally ISO certified. Some depots have been partially certified, but we did our entire depot at once,” Barthlein said.
The certification process at MCA took approximately three years to complete.
“Maintaining a certification is very difficult. Once you’re initially certified, you then have to maintain what you’re doing and keep up the momentum,” he added. “For us in Albany, it’s a way of life. It’s the backbone from which we develop other programs such as Theory of Constraints.”
ISO calls for users to have four different levels of documentation, including the quality manual derived from the ISO standard plus procedures, work instructions and forms. Also, ISO standards don’t vary between civilian and military applications.
“The standards are the same everywhere, only how you apply them is different. The work we do here is more critical than a civilian enterprise which, for example, manufactures clothing.”
According to the Web site www.iso.org, ISO, is the world’s largest developer and publisher of international standards. It is a network of the national standards institutes of 162 countries, one member per country, with a central secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, that coordinates the system.
ISO is a non-governmental organization that forms a bridge between the public and private sectors. On the one hand, many of its member institutes are part of the governmental structure of their countries, or are mandated by their government. Other members have their roots uniquely in the private sector, having been set up by national partnerships of industry associations.
ISO enables a consensus to be reached on solutions that meet both the requirements of business and the broader needs of society.
“When we inspect a facility, we’re looking for evidence of conformance to the ISO standard,” said Tom Hayne, president of EAQA USA, an ISO certifier. “We look from the top down, to the management team for leadership, clear policy, objectives and good communications processes. At the employee level, we look for conformance with the procedure, that they are trained and have access to the tools and information they need.”
Everything must be in alignment between management and the work force, he added.
Hayne said he was pleased with the openness and professionalism of all MCA employees interviewed during the audit. At the out-brief, he commented on how impressed he was with the overall agility of the center. He stated that “if you wanted to learn something about ISO, go to MCA.”
He added that he was equally impressed the new Risk Based Audit Program recently developed by the MCA Quality Branch and indicated it was good enough to be in a book.